The other day I was browsing through some old DVDs to find a movie to watch. I stumbled upon “The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind”. Boy, was that a trip down memory lane. For years I thought it was a chick flick, and then I was told it had some sci-fi elements and interesting psychological concepts. Naturally, I was intrigued. As it turns out, “Eternal Sunshine” is a sweet, emotional story. It actually made me tear up a bit (and yes, contrary to popular belief, jackasses have feelings too).

I won’t spoil it for you – if you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s well worth your time. The best thing about it is the interesting question it raises. If you could erase a painful memory, wipe it right off your mind, would you?

Well, this dilemma is not just purely theoretical anymore. Supposedly, some medical science guys are developing a miracle drug called Propranolol (seriously, who comes up with these names?), which can do just that. It can selectively efface the memories you want to get rid of. Think of all those traumatic experience survivors who’ll finally get some peace of mind. Pretty neat, right?

Hmmm. Color me skeptical. As with everything in life, we’ll find a way to pervert its intended purpose.

For every sexual abuse victim or PTSD patient who’d pop that pill to ease the emotional scarring, there would be at least a dozen heartbroken fools who take Propranolol because they supposedly can’t take the pain of parting. From attention-craving teenagers to middle-aged divorcees, it would be an absolute hit.

“Serious” trauma aside, let’s talk about the idea of being given such a choice on matters of relationships and everyday stuff.

Would you be willing to erase your bad memories, were you given the chance to?

I, for one, say “No”, and if you say “Yes”, I’ll automatically think you’re a dumbass.

For starters, your personality – you yourself, really – is little more than the sum of all your memories and experiences. That’s what makes you who you are. Erasing a memory means subtracting from that sum. And more often than not, it’s the bad ones that define you the most profoundly. Think back at all those watershed moments in your life, the critical experiences that shaped you. These are the cornerstones of your being. Are you sure you’re willing to play Jenga using your psyche as blocks, chum?

Furthermore, there’s a reason why your brain is structured like that. Painful memories serve as reminders for what you’re not supposed to do, lest you experience the same pain. Sure, go on, erase that trainwreck of a breakup that took you months to go through. I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that sooner or later you’ll make the exact same mistakes that led up to it. You forget the pain, you forget the lesson – that’s how life works. And then, when your poor choices lead you to another nasty experience, then what? Pop another pill, rinse and repeat?

No. Just no.

You know what? I am against even having that option. By reducing the permanency and severity of the consequences, it leads to poor decision making. “Hey, why don’t we {enter stupid crap here}? If it turns out bad, we can always forget about it, right?” Turn that up to eleven, see the bigger picture. Before long, you’ll have a YOLO-worshipping society of pill-popping lotus-eater junkie escapists. When reality starts to sound like a shout-out to 1980’s cyberpunk dystopias, it’s time to admit we’re doing something monstrously wrong.

So, in a nutshell, let the memory-erasing to those truly traumatized poor souls. Instead of disavowing those memories that cause you pain or discomfort, try embracing them. They are your hard-earned lessons. Toughen up a bit, roll up your sleeves and get to work making new, better ones.

Author: Chris Wilkins
Επιμέλεια κειμένου: Petra Lane

Leave a comment!

Do you have an article suggestion?

Feel free to send us your suggestion about an article you would like to read.